Pipestone National Monument

While passing through the Southwest corner of Minnesota earlier this summer, an unmistakable brown and white sign reserved for national monuments popped into view: Pipestone National Monument

Located in the town of Pipestone, Pipestone National Monument is the site where generations of American Indians have quarried, and continue to quarry,  the sacred red pipestone from the remains of a tallgrass prairie that once covered the land.

IMG_8245For countless generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone found at this site. These grounds are sacred to many people because the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. Many believe that the pipe’s smoke carries one’s prayer to the Great Spirit. The traditions of quarrying and pipemaking continue here today.

IMG_8257A small park by national monument standards, a typical visit to Pipestone National Monument involves a trip to the visitor center, where you can watch a 22-minute interpretive film and see a cultural demonstration of pipestone carving (this is located back towards the bookstore and gift shop).

Where to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in Pipestone, Minnesota from traditional hotels to private vacation rentals through Stay22.com:

IMG_8258The highlight of the trip (in my option) is the Circle Trail nature walk that begins and ends at the Visitor Center. A paved walking trail that weaves and winds through the park, you could probably push a stroller or wheelchair on the path if you had some assistance.

IMG_8247We suggest alotting 45 minutes to an hour for the entire walk. Features along the trail include the pipestone quarries, historical markers, Old Stone Face, Winnewissa Falls, Oracle and the native tallgrass prairie. Trail guides are available for loan or purchase in the Visitor Center. Several benches are placed along the trail. IMG_8252As you hike along the path, look for bits of cloth tied to the branches of trees. Many hold tobacco in bundles that are meant as an offering in prayer.

IMG_9557Can you see the Sun Dance tree in the background?

IMG_8255Visiting Pipestone National Monument with my friend Amanda, please read her take on the experience for a much more insightful account of what a trip to Pipestone really means.


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.